American Greetings #ThankList Case Study

This Product-Cause Fit case study shows how American Greetings (the world’s largest greeting card producer) used cause marketing to promote expressing gratitude (presumably appealing to its own target market). The integrated campaign consisted of: a public opinion poll, a celebrity spokesperson, native advertising, digital word-of-mouth influencers, user-generated content, and a documentary series.


Narrator:  “Incivility has risen to crisis levels in America. So how do you encourage a culture to be nicer? By starting with two simple words.”

Counselor:  “I’m going to ask you to write down people who have meant something very, very special to you.”

Narrator:  “We’ve all heard of a bucket list. To combat thanklessness, American Greetings created the ThankList: A list of people you want to thank for shaping you as a person. To introduce the behavior, we partnered with Oscar-winning documentarian Barbara Kopple to follow five real people creating and fulfilling a personal ThankList. We released the documentary series online and hosted a panel discussion on gratitude with notable cultural influencers. Within two weeks, the series had over 1.9 million views and mass coverage…”

News Anchor:  “If you’re thinking of someone to thank right now, use the hashtag #ThankList.”

Narrator:  “…and a fully dedicated Huffington Post Gratitude Section. Even the king of thank you notes himself was talking about it.”

Jimmy Fallon:  “”

Elizabeth Banks:  “Yeah. People don’t know. I love getting thanks. My kids can’t thank me enough.”

Narrator:  “Overall, the message reached hundreds of millions (192,409,764 total PR impressions), but the goal wasn’t just awareness, it was action. Every element of the campaign drove users to create a personal ThankList via #ThankList, written message, or personalized ThankList video: a stunning animated film that thanked the people who shaped you as a person. All entries were then aggregated into a living gratitude collective that users could explore and be inspired by. The result of this small act of saying thanks:  big cultural change.”

Participants:  “Thank you.”  “Thank you, Dad. You have always been my hero.”  “He’s made me a better person.”

Elizabeth Banks:  “Well, I started thinking I’ll name somebody on The Tonight Show.”

Jimmy Fallon:  “Who, who, who?”

Elizabeth Banks:  “It’s so nice to be able to say it: Dorinda Vance. She made a really great difference in my life.”

Jimmy Fallon:  “That’s awesome.”

Elizabeth Banks:  “Thank you to American Greetings. Go to and create your own ThankList.”

Jimmy Fallon:  “”

Related Materials

#ThankList Promotion Tactics

According to reporting in PR Week:

  • Budget:  “About $1 million”
  • Timing: “News bureau approach” to “keep the conversation alive with real-time news tracking, as well as leaning into calendar milestones” including Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Appreciation Week, and Father’s Day.
  • Celebrity Spokesperson:  Elizabeth Banks
  • Native Advertising:  “To go a step further than banner ads and paid social content, the company worked with The Huffington Post’s team on a paid media plan where the outlet created a new content hub and editorial section on the site called HuffPost Gratitude.”
  • Digital World-of-Mouth Advertising:  “American Greetings partnered with social media influencer agency Clever Girls Collective on a program that included 250 unique influencers, garnering 50 million impressions.”

#ThankList Documentary Series

An example of the American Greetings #ThankList mini documentaries:

Sponsored Survey for #ThankList Earned Media Purposes 

American Greetings Harris Poll Gratitude Findings

You Engage. We’ll Give.

According to an American Greetings press release: “American Greetings is putting gratitude front-and-center this upcoming holiday season with a special donation to longtime community partner, United Way. Between November 1 and November 30, the Company will donate $1 to United Way Worldwide for each #ThankList shared on social media (for a maximum donation of $30,000). As we look forward to sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones, it’s fitting that the funds donated during this campaign will be allocated for hunger prevention.”

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